While the winners of the Edinburgh Comedy Awards are decided one fateful evening by nine judges in a room plus the chair, if a casting vote is needed, the preparations for that exciting announcement are going on year round.
Heading up the awards, and therefore responsible for the team of judges, scouts (often former judges) and administrators associated with them, is the awards director and producer Nica Burns who took over running the awards in 1984 and has seen them through the transition between Perrier awards to if.comedy awards and then to The Edinburgh Comedy Awards.
Before taking the helm of the awards Nica ran two venues that housed comedy and theatre side by side, the Finborough theatre, renowned for being part of the first wave of ‘new comedy’ clubs and the Donmar Warehouse, a venue that continues to enjoy an important role in London’s West End. Nica was also one of the first people to start using comedians in plays (for example John Dowie playing Strindberg, and Mark Steel in A Little Cabaret for Bertolt Brecht) a trend that has continued today particularly with Phil Nichol (the 2006 if.comedy winner) and his Comedians Theatre Company.
Outside of her continuing work as director and producer of the Edinburgh Comedy Awards Nica’s other posts have included; Artistic Director, Donmar Warehouse 1983 to 1989; Production Director of Really Useful Theatres from 1993 to 2005; owner and Chief Executive of Nimax Theatres Limited from 2005, President of Society of London Theatres since 2008.
Nica owns five of London’s playhouses: the Lyric, Apollo, Garrick, Duchess and Vaudeville Theatres with her business partner Max Weitzenhoffer. She is Chief Executive of their company, Nimax Theatres Limited. Meanwhile some of the productions Nica has been responsible for include:
Medea starring Fiona Shaw directed by Deborah Warner (Queens 2001 and Broadway 2002), Feelgood by Alistair Beaton, (Garrick, 2001) Kiss Me, Kate (Victoria Palace, 2001), My Brilliant Divorce starring Dawn French (Apollo, 2004). In 2005: Sitting Pretty by Amy Rosenthal (tour), Christian Slater in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (Gielgud), David Suchet in Man and Boy (Duchess), Who’s the Daddy? by Toby Young and Lloyd Evans (King’s Head) and David Schwimmer in Some Girl(s) by Neil LaBute (Gielgud). In 2006 Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (Apollo), the reprise of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest starring Christian Slater and Alex Kingston (Garrick), Breakfast with Mugabe (Duchess), Fool for Love starring Juliette Lewis (Apollo), See How They Run (Duchess). In 2007 A Moon for the Misbegotten starring Kevin Spacey (Old Vic and Broadway) and Swimming with Sharks starring Christian Slater (Vaudeville). In 2008 Rain Man starring Josh Hartnett (Apollo). In 2009, Three Days of Rain starring James McAvoy (Apollo), Timing by Alistair McGowan (King’s Head), The Rise and Fall of Little Voice starring Lesley Sharp and Marc Warren (Vaudeville) and Endgame starring Mark Rylance and Simon McBurney (Duchess).
Supporting Nica in her work on the Edinburgh Comedy Awards are:
Laurence Miller – Producer
Emma Brünjes – Producer
Barney Jackson – Awards Administrator